Author * Speaker * Editor

Excellent storytelling, accurate historical reporting, and gritty, persevering characters

The Story behind Anchor in the Storm by Sarah Sundin

Another one of my favorite authors joins us today to tell us a little bit more about her newest release. Here’s what Sarah Sundin’s book Anchor in the Storm is all about.

Anchor in the Storm PK (002)For plucky Lillian Avery, America’s entry into World War II means a chance to prove herself as a pharmacist in Boston. The challenges of her new job energize her. But society boy Ensign Archer Vandenberg’s attentions only annoy—even if he is her brother’s best friend. During the darkest days of the war, Arch’s destroyer hunts German U-boats in vain as the submarines sink dozens of merchant ships along the East Coast. Still shaken by battles at sea, Arch notices his men also struggle with their nerves—and with drowsiness. Could there be a link to the large prescriptions for sedatives Lillian has filled? The two work together to answer that question, but can Arch ever earn Lillian’s trust and affection?

Oh, that sounds so good! So, Sarah, what inspired you to write the book?

Imagine you’re spending a spring day at the seashore. Children shriek as chilly waves chase bare feet. Gulls call to each other. A salty breeze plays with your hair.

Out on the gray waves, a dark shape plods along, a tanker carrying oil vital to the Allied war effort.

Is it your imagination, or did you see a flash of light? A muffled boom creeps across the waters.

The laughter stills. You shield your eyes and squint out to sea. The dark shape expands—a black cloud, roiling, rising, slanting with the wind.

A woman sobs. A man curses. Mothers gather frightened children.

A German submarine, a U-boat, has sunk the tanker. You pray for the dozens of merchant marines aboard, pray they’ll reach the lifeboats, pray a ship will rescue them.

Scenes like this played out along America’s East Coast too often in early 1942.

After Germany declared war on the United States on December 11, 1941, Adm. Karl Dönitz sent five U-boats to American waters with orders to attack shipping on the same day as in a loud, devastating “drumbeat”—in German, Paukenschlag.

On January 2, 1942, the British Admiralty warned the US Navy that U-boats were on their way to the East Coast. However, the US Navy could do little. Fifteen warships had been transferred from the Atlantic Fleet to the Pacific to battle the Japanese, and most of the remaining warships were committed to escorting North Atlantic convoys to Britain. The US had only a handful of small and obsolete vessels to protect coastal shipping.

On January 12 off Nova Scotia, U-123 sank the British freighter Cyclops, the first loss in Operation Paukenschlag. And on January 14 off Long Island, U-123 sank the Panamanian tanker Norness, the first sinking in US waters.

For the first six months of 1942, terror reigned off the Eastern Seaboard. One hundred merchant ships were sunk in the Eastern Sea Frontier, killing thousands of merchant marines, sailors, and passengers. The loss in tankers produced an oil crisis that led to gasoline rationing in the seventeen Eastern states starting May 15. Oil, flotsam, and bodies washed ashore, a grim reminder of the carnage offshore.

The military moved slowly but surely. As more escort ships were built, the Eastern Sea Frontier finally instituted partial coastal convoys in April 1942 and full convoys in mid-May. On April 14, the destroyer USS Roper sank U-85, the first victory by a US ship over a U-boat, but not the last.

By July 19, escorted convoys and heavy losses led Admiral Dönitz to order his submarines from the East Coast to the Caribbean.

In Anchor in the Storm, I wanted to show what the battle felt like for American sailors, conducting fruitless searches, rescuing oil-drenched survivors, and worrying about German torpedoes. More importantly, I wanted to show the sailors’ strength and bravery. Through Arch Vandenberg’s story, I hope readers gain hope that they too can persevere in any storm.

Sarah Sundin PK (002)Sarah Sundin is the author of eight historical novels, including Anchor in the Storm. Her novel Through Waters Deep was named to Booklist’s “101 Best Romance Novels of the Last 10 Years,” and her novella “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” in Where Treetops Glisten was a finalist for the 2015 Carol Award. A mother of three, Sarah lives in California, works on-call as a hospital pharmacist, and teaches Sunday school.

And Sarah is giving you a chance to win her latest book. Be sure to enter to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks so much for joining us, Sarah! It’s always great to have you.


  1. I hadn’t ever heard of German U-boats off the US coast until I started reading about Sarah’s book. That’s one thing I love about good historical fiction: it’s a great way to learn about history, often about something I didn’t know much, if anything, about. Thanks for the chance to win Anchor in the Storm.

  2. I have heard of German U-boats. I love historical fiction, it’s a fun way to learn history. Thanks for the opportunity to win!

  3. I did not know about the U-boats off the coast of the US and I love that I learn so much about WW2 when I read Sarah’s books. I am sooo excited about this series. Thanks for the interview and the giveaway!

  4. While vacationing in North Carolina a few years ago, I heard about the discovery of the wreckage of a German U-boat off the coast of Cape Hatteras. I believe they think it was sunk sometime during WWII. I had never realized before that that the war had come that close to our shores.

  5. My husband is a huge history buff and he told me about U-boats on our shores, which I was surprised to learn at the time!

    Loved the author interview, Sarah’s books are amongst my must-reads! I love her attention to historical details. Thanks for the giveaway chance, I have the first book on my shelf. 🙂

  6. I have read about them. But, it has been a very long time ago. I don’t remember much about it.

  7. Yes. Also I recommend reading Invitation to Valhalla

    by Mike Whicker along with its sequels.

  8. Yes! It was a scary time, I’m sure! We live in NC, we love going to historic sites & learning about the past. Plus my dad was hubby’s dad were in WWII, so we heard a lot of stories first hand. I feel very ‘comfortable’ when I get lost in your books Sarah. Ha!Ha! Thanks for sharing your talent!

  9. I have heard about them on Long Island, NY.

  10. I had heard of the U-boats, but haven’t thought of it in recent times. Thanks for the reminder. It must have been a very frightening time.

  11. Sounds like an interesting book. My father served in WWII in the Navy(on board a battle ship) & we have a family album with pictures of his time in the service. Very precious & dear to us now as he has passed away. So proud of our Dad & his military service to our country. I’m thankful he came home or I wouldn’t be here today. God bless our men & women who protect our country!